Shelby turned away from the door, surveying the kitchen and dining area for something out of place, anything that might provide a clue or an answer. Something was terribly wrong, something had been invited, something that shouldn’t be here had been allowed to step into her home. Her emotions were building once more, all of the tragedy from the last five years combined with being alone, not one shoulder to cry on, not one ounce of empathy or understanding from those claiming to be her family. Something surfaced through her foggy medicated brain.
“Oh my God!”
Shelby realized for the first time, the kids had never referred to her as family. She had shouted it to the world, forever claiming Gabriel and both of his children, but not only had they not claimed her, but she was also a secret, something kept at a distance, like the hired help that prays desperately to be one of the family.
The little scream echoed through the house. This couldn’t be true, she was depressed and still dealing with the death of her mother, even the doctor had told her this, explaining to Shelby the necessary steps of the grieving process. And her boyfriend, yes her loving boyfriend, didn’t pull a single punch, telling her repeatedly that she was crazy and needed a shrink.
“You’re fucking crazy Shelby…you need help. Look at you…just laying in bed all day. Stop crying and get up. Did you take your pills!”
Even Gabe’s mother had joined in last Christmas during a conversation with her son. Shelby had overheard every word from the next room.
“Have you taken Shelby to the doctor honey? The poor dear, she needs help, she’s not right in the head Gabe. She’s becoming so…so paranoid.”
At the time, Shelby had a strange impression that Luna had made the remarks just loud enough for Shelby to overhear the clandestine conversation. Shelby dismissed the idea after realizing that by thinking such things, she would be validating Luna’s painful words.
Shelby turned back to the door, the thin wooden barrier standing between her and the dogs. She had to focus, put her pain aside and get this job done. If she could do this one thing, then moving on to another task wouldn’t be an unclimbable mountain.
Shelby placed her right-hand flat on the door and closed her eyes. There was a time when this would have been easy for her, even routine. Within moments a connection would be made, revealing the other side of the portal.
All she could see was darkness, everything was black, cold and black. Then a loud scraping sound against the other side of the door. Shelby’s senses spiked, and she knew the dogs were waiting, waiting for her less than two inches away, only the thin door separating them.
For several minutes, Shelby listened to the dogs, trying to come up with a plan, anything to avoid her boyfriend’s temper. And then she had it, she would let them out into the back yard. First, she had to make sure that the dogs couldn’t get out by securing their kennel. She didn’t want anyone getting hurt by her boyfriend’s dogs. She had always loved and trusted Pit Bulls, knowing that the breed’s bad reputation came only from a small percentage of dog owners that didn’t have any business owning dogs, owners such as Gabriel.
Shelby walked to the French Doors that opened to the patio and then opened the door on the left. She slammed the door immediately when the smaller Pit Bull snapped at her arm, it’s nose briefly catching between the two doors. She screamed.
“Damnit…what the fuck!”
Shelby sat on the floor with her back centered between both doors. She reached for her cell phone, but it was charging on the nightstand in the bedroom.
“I fucking knew it…son of a bitch…I fucking knew it!”
Shelby kicked several times at one of the chairs from the kitchen table, sending the wooden chair flying underneath the heavy glass top table. Like bowling pins, the first chair knocked two more chairs almost the entire way into the living room.
Shelby’s anger was building, something in her mind had clicked, a line had been crossed. She sat, eyes fixed straight ahead towards the large window on the other side of the living room. One by one household objects began to fall away, piece by piece everything within her field of vision flickered and vanished, until nothing was left except for Shelby.
The only sound that She could hear was her own rhythmic breathing. The only thing that she could see was light. Everything else, all of the world, had fallen away as if the entire universe had vanished. A change began to take place, a vision formed before her eyes, and it was clean. Sunlight warmed her skin. A light summer wind lifted her hair over her shoulders, and she could smell fresh cut flowers. Shelby looked at her feet, small blades of grass poked up and through a layer of sand and river rock. She looked up, three small white rectangular buildings now stood before her, featureless and lacking a single window or door.